Cuba's Racial Crucible by Karen Y. Morrison has been selected as the winner of this year's Marysa Navarro Best Book Prize.
The Marysa Navarro Best Book Prize is awarded annually by the New England Council of Latin American Studies. The award committee offered this assessment of Morrison's work:
Karen Morrison’s Cuba’s Racial Crucible is a transformative volume in Latin American Studies that puts forward a profoundly interdisciplinary approach to understanding the nexus between race, individual and nation by focusing on the study of familial reproduction. Cuba’s Racial Crucible is a long durée account of the ways that families are made and remembered over three centuries. Structured as a study of the sexual economy of race, the volume showcases the value of conceptual cross-pollination between cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, history, African American and Latin American studies. As Morrison traces the particular political and social contexts within which individuals act to construct and reproduce of racial categories in Cuba from the 18th to the 20th century she employs nuanced and dynamic conceptualizations of culture, racial categorization and institutional dynamics. The meticulously documented national and familial narratives crafted by Morrison juxtapose a surprisingly wide breadth of historical sources― such as marriage, baptismal, and paternity petition records with prose or poetry by public intellectuals― in order to highlight the ways that state-making practices coalesce with religious and secular ideologies of family formation. Asking us to rethink the ways that individuals enact selves and families whilst making both race and nation, Karen Morrison moves us miles beyond facile accounts of mestizaje that too often characterize post-colonial histories.